Brian Gedalla

How to Live With Risk in the COVID-19 World

by Brian Gedalla We assess risks every day of our lives. We learn to do this as very small children and long before we reach adulthood we carry out most of the assessments completely subconsciously. COVID-19 is forcing us to assess the risks associated with the virus in our conscious minds and we are not very good at it. Thinking about the process we must all go through, I have concluded that what we are doing is trying to assess and juggle with three different numbers in our heads, without ever assigning an actual number to any of them. My simplistic model works like this: We assign a 'Utility Value' to an activity we are either doing, or would like to do. This is our subjective measure of the value and importance to us of that activity and will take into account our perception of the negative aspects of the risk we propose to take.The Utility Value drives us to arrive at an 'Acceptable Risk Ceiling' – the highest level of risk we are prepared to accept if we are to engage in the activity. It follows that the Acceptable Risk Ceiling is different for each activity in our lives and will be different for every person. There are no absolutes in assessing personal risk.We assess the Actual Risk (from...

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December 2022
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